Is ITV's The Ipcress File a true story and is it the same as the film?

6 March 2022, 18:00

The Ipcress File is based on a novel of the same name
The Ipcress File is based on a novel of the same name. Picture: ITV/Alamy

Is The Ipcress File based on a true story? And is it the same as the Michael Cane film? Here's what we know...

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The Ipcress File is a brand new ITV drama based on a novel of the same name by Len Deighton.

This six-part series is set in the 1960s amid the backdrop of the Cold War as it rages between the West and East.

It follows British army sergeant Harry Palmer who ends up becoming a spy to avoid a stint in military jail.

But is The Ipcress File based on a true story? Here’s what we know…

Is ITV's The Ipcress File a true story?

No, The Ipcress File is not based on a true story.

The Ipcress File is airing on ITV this month
The Ipcress File is airing on ITV this month. Picture: ITV

It is set amid the Cold War, with author Len Deighton saying he was inspired by someone who lived next door to him.

His neighbour was a White Russian émigrée who collaborated with a cipher clerk from the American embassy to spy for Germany in World War II.

Is The Ipcress File series the same as the film?

ITV's new series The Ipcress File is based on a spy novel of the same name, which was turned into a film adaptation in 1965.

It starred Michael Caine and was produced by the James Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman.

However, there are some differences to the book, as the main character in the novel has no name.

Michael Cane starred in the original The Ipcress File film
Michael Cane starred in the original The Ipcress File film. Picture: Alamy

Meanwhile, in the 1965 film the protagonist is called Harry Palmer, with the name chosen by actor Michael Cane.

It doesn't look like Michael will be appearing in the new series, but Joe Cole - who plays Harry in the new series - has given a nod to him with a pair of thick rimmed glasses.

Director James Watkins said: "[It was a] little wink, yeah, and also the fact that when you cut to Joe [Cole], the gaze is out of focus and then it finds focus when he puts the glasses on.

“So we just wanted to sort of tip our hat to that. But then also to say, 'OK, now here it is. Harry Palmer is Joe Cole, here is a new iteration and enjoy this.'”